Connie Willis

American science fiction writer

Constance Elaine Trimmer Willis (born 31 December 1945) is an American science fiction writer.

Connie Willis in 1998

Quotes edit

Short fiction edit

See Connie Willis's Internet Science Fiction Database page for original publication details

Fire Watch (1985) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback published by Bantam Spectra, ISBN 0-553-26045-6 (July 1986, 1st printing)
  • I would never save her. I looked at the woman mopping up the tea, and it came to me that I could not save her either. Enola or the cat or any of them, lost here in the endless stairways and cul-de-sacs of time. They were already dead a hundred years, past saving. The past is beyond saving. Surely that was the lesson the history department sent me all this way to learn. Well, fine, I’ve learned it. Can I go home now?
    • Fire Watch (p. 34; Hugo Award for Best Novelette in 1983 and Nebula Award for Best Novelette in 1982)
  • A cage is a safe place as long as nobody has the key.
    • The Sidon in the Mirror (p. 161)
  • He sorted all the mail into three piles of “for” and “against” and “wildly insane,” then threw all of them into the wastebasket.
    • Samaritan (p. 223)
  • Do you suppose Walter Hunt would have invented the safety pin if he had known that punk rockers would stick them through their cheeks?
    • Blued Moon (p. 234)
  • “Fifty-nine,” Mr. Mowen said. “That’s too many coincidences to just be a coincidence.”
    • Blued Moon (p. 255)

Lincoln's Dreams (1987) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback published by Bantam Spectra, ISBN 0-553-27025-7 (reissued in July 1992, 12th printing)
Won the 1988 John W. Campbell Memorial Award
  • “I’m a scientist, not a psychiatrist. I don’t believe dreams have a ‘real’ meaning. They’re a physical process, and any ‘reality’ they have lies in the physical. Freud made no attempt to understand the physical. He felt the key to understanding dream lay in content, and came up with an elaborate system of symbols to explain the images in dreams.”
    • Chapter 4 (p. 49)
  • “In my opinion, dream interpretation as practiced by most Freudian psychiatrists, including some of mine at the Institute, is nothing more than a fancy system of guessing. I think trying to understand the ‘real’ meaning of a dream without reference to the physical state of the dreamer is as pointless as trying to understand what a fever ‘means’ without studying the body.”
    • Chapter 4 (p. 50)
  • One of the greatest difficulties I encounter in my research is that people want to believe that their dreams mean something, but all the research I’m doing seems to indicate just the opposite.
    • Chapter 4 (pp. 57-58)

Light Raid (1989) edit

Quote from the mass market paperback published by Ace, ISBN 0-441-48312-7 (April 1990, 2nd printing)
Co-written with Cynthia Felice
  • “Why is it,” Joss said, “that whenever I find you, you are always about to hop in bed with my employer?”
    • Chapter 15 (p. 194)

Doomsday Book (1992) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback published by Bantam Spectra
Won the 1993 Nebula Award and the 1993 Hugo Award
  • “They’re absolutely necrotic, aren’t they?” Colin whispered behind his order of service.
    “It’s late twentieth century atonal,” Dunworthy whispered back. “It’s supposed to sound dreadful.”
    • Chapter 14 (p. 219)
  • It’s the light, she thought. Everyone looks like a cutthroat by torchlight. No wonder they invented electricity.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 320)
  • Everyone else had the look of tired patience people always got when listening to a sermon, no matter what the century.
    • Chapter 20 (p. 326)
  • “The clerk is dying, Rosemund is dying, you’ve all been exposed. Why shouldn’t I give up hope?”
    God has not abandoned us utterly,” he said. “Agnes is safe in his arms.”
    Safe, she thought bitterly. In the ground. In the cold. In the dark.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 496)
  • Nobody deserves this. “Please,” she prayed, and wasn’t sure what she asked.
    Whatever it was, it was not granted.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 498)
  • It doesn’t matter, she thought, and realized in spite of everything, horror after horror, Roche still believed in God. He had been going to the church to say matins when he found the steward, and if they all died, he would go on saying them and not find anything incongruous in his prayers.
    • Chapter 31 (p. 506)
  • "Kepe from haire. Der fevreblau hast bifallen us."
    • Chapter 35 (p. 563)

Bellwether (1996) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback published by Bantam Spectra
The sections in each chapter of the novel are not numbered. They are numbered here for ease of reference
  • “What’s going on?” I whispered to Gina.
    Management is proving beyond a shadow of a doubt they don’t have enough to do,” she murmured back. “So they’ve invented a new acronym.”
    • Chapter 1 “Beginning”, Section 4 (p. 33)
  • Therein lay the secret to all fads: the herd instinct. People wanted to look like everybody else. That was why they bought white bucks and pedal pushers and bikinis. But someone had to be the first one to wear platform shoes, to bob their hair, and that took the opposite of herd instinct.
    • Chapter 2 “Bubblings”, Section 3 (p. 63)
  • There are moments when rather than reforming the human race I’d like to abandon it altogether and go become, say, one of Dr. O’Reilly’s macaques, which have to have more sense.
    • Chapter 2 “Bubblings”, Section 5 (p. 75)
  • Barbie’s one of those fads whose popularity makes you lose all faith in the human race.
    • Chapter 3 “Tributaries”, Section 3 (p. 117)
  • Why do only the awful things become fads? I thought. Eye-rolling and Barbie and bread pudding. Why never chocolate cheesecake or thinking for yourself?
    • Chapter 3 “Tributaries”, Section 3 (p. 119)
  • “My physics teacher used to say Diogenes shouldn’t have wasted his time looking for an honest man,” Shirl said, “he should have been looking for somebody who thought for himself.”
    • Chapter 3 “Tributaries”, Section 4 (p. 127)
  • Management cares about only one thing. Paperwork. They will forgive almost anything else—cost overruns, gross incompetence, criminal indictments—as long as the paperwork’s filled out properly. And in on time.
    • Chapter 4 “Rapids”, Section 1 (p. 140)
  • Management’ll never go for it. First, it’s live-animal research, which is controversial. Management hates controversy. Second, it’s something innovative, which means Management will hate it on principle.
    • Chapter 4 “Rapids”, Section 2 (p. 151)
  • You shouldn’t be looking for the secret to making people follow fads, you should be looking for the secret to making them think for themselves. Because that’s what science is all about.
    • Chapter 5 “Main Channel”, Section 2 (p. 226)

To Say Nothing of the Dog (1998) edit

All page numbers from the mass market paperback published by Bantam Spectra, ISBN 0-553-57538-4
Won the 1999 Hugo Award
  • “That makes no sense,” I said.
    “This is the Victorian era,” she said. “Women didn’t have to make sense.”
    • Chapter 17 (p. 297)
  • Servants don’t travel with their employers.”
    “How do they do without them?”
    ”They don’t.”
    • Chapter 18 (pp. 317-318)
  • It is a temporal universal that people never appreciate their own time, especially transportation. Twentieth-Century contemps complained about cancelled flights and gasoline prices, Eighteenth-Century contemps complained about muddy roads and highwaymen. No doubt Professor Peddick’s Greeks complained about recalcitrant horses and chariot wheels falling off.
    • Chapter 18 (p. 318)
  • “Baine, what do you think of this?” Tossie said, indicating the bishop’s bird stump. “Don’t you agree it’s the most beautiful piece of art you’ve ever seen?”
    Baine straightened and looked at it, blinking water out of his eyes.
    There was a considerable pause while Baine wrung out his sleeve. “No.”
    “No?” Tossie said, making it into a screamlet.
    “What do you mean, ‘no’?”
    “I mean the sculpture is a hideous atrocity, vulgarly conceived, badly designed, and shoddily executed,” he said, folding the shawl carefully and bending to lay it back in the bundle.
    “How dare you say that,” Tossie said, her cheeks very pink.
    Baine straightened. “I beg you pardon, miss. I thought you were asking my opinion.”
    “I was, but I expected you to tell me you thought it was beautiful.”
    He bowed slightly. “As you wish, miss.” He looked at it, his face impassive. “It is very beautiful.”
    • Chapter 19 (p. 333; the ellipsis represents a minor elision of description)
  • “How dare you contradict their opinions! You are only a common servant.”
    “Yes, miss,” he said wearily.
    “You should be dismissed for being insolent to your betters.”
    There was a long pause, and then Baine said, “All the diary entries and dismissals in the world cannot change the truth. Galileo recanted under threat of torture, but that did not make the sun revolve round the earth. If you dismiss me, the vase will still be vulgar, I will still be right, and your taste will still be plebeian, no matter what you write in your diary.”
    “Plebeian?” Tossie said, bright pink. “How dare you speak like that to your mistress? You are dismissed.” She pointed imperiously at the house. “Pack your things immediately.”
    “Yes, miss,” Baine said. “E pur si muove.”
    “What?” Tossie said, bright red with rage. “What did you say?”
    “I said, now that finally have dismissed me, I am no longer a member of the servant class and am therefore in a position to speak freely,” he said calmly.
    “You are not in a position to speak to me at all,” Tossie said, raising her diary like a weapon. “Leave at once.”
    “I dared to speak the truth to you because I felt you were deserving of it,” Baine said seriously. “I had only your best interests at heart, as I have always had. You have been blessed with great riches; not only with the riches of wealth, position, and beauty, but with a bright mind and a keen sensibility, as well as with a fine spirit. And yet you squander those riches on croquet and organdies and trumpery works of art. You have at your disposal a library of the great minds of the past, and yet you read the foolish novels of Charlotte Yonge and Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Given the opportunity to study science, you converse with conjurors wearing cheesecloth and phosphorescent paint. Confronted by the glories of Gothic architecture, you admire instead a cheap imitation of it, and confronted by the truth, you stamp your foot like a spoilt child and demand to be told fairy stories.”
    • Chapter 22 (p. 374)
  • The continuum had somehow managed to correct the incongruity, pairing off lovers like the last act of a Shakespearean comedy, though just how it had managed it wasn’t clear. What was clear was that it had wanted us out of the way while it was doing whatever it was doing. So it had done the time-travel equivalent of locking us in our rooms.
    • Chapter 26 (p. 436)
  • If they were part of the self-correction (i. e., of the space-time continuum) what did that do to the notion of free will? Or was free will part of the plan as well?
    • Chapter 28 (p. 479)

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